Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Sydney Part 2

Since the New Zealand leg has begun, I should finish off the Australian adventure first. This part of the trip directly followed the Eastern Creek racing. This post will cover some in detail, the rest in outline since I ran out of time. It's a long one!

With the racing over, back to seeing the sights. First stop is the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. They actually are not mountains technically. Just upthrust sandstone plateaus that streams have eroded into valleys. This is a key point for hiking. The trails usually start at the top of the plateau. That means the return path is almost always uphill! Just what you need at the end of a hike. BTW, they call hiking 'bushwalking' down here.

The erosion makes for some interesting formations. The 3 Sisters is a formation just at the cliff edge in Katoomba. It is pretty popular with tourist because it is easy to see from Echo Point. They also flood light it at night.
Busy at Echo Point
The 3 Sisters The 3 Sisters at night
There is a 7 km trail called Prince Henry Cliff Walk that runs along the top of the cliff. They have put sculptures of the various animals from the area. Good views of the valley.
Rocks along trail Erosion below tree roots

Spiny anteater sculpture Flowers along trail
I only had a little time before my parking meter ran out (I couldn't get my credit card to work so I had to use coins). Thus I only when down to the Honeymoon Bridge at the 3 Sisters, and 10 minutes down the Giant Staircase which has ~1000 steps to the valley floor. Maybe another time.
Going down to Honeymoon Bridge
(the little people in the middle are on the bridge)
Continuing down Giant Staircase
I stayed at the Blue Mountains YHA in Katoomba. It's in an National Trust art-deco building that originally was built as a guest-house in 1918. I had a double/twin room (double bed with a twin sized bunk above. Nice and clean, big kitchen, lots of refrigerator space. Well organized.
Blue Mountains YHA
Next day started the hiking in earnest. First up (or down), the Grand Canyon loop of 5.5km. Steps down first into the Canyon of course. The canyon is more of a narrow deep cut than the one in Arizona.
Down the stairs into the Grand Canyon Along the Canyon

Tunnel formed by rock fall Waterfalls
The river can be up to 30 metres below the trail. You can go on abseiling tours to get to the bottom.
Abseiling (rappelling) anchors in the rock Greaves Creek at the bottom
What does down, must go up again. Some of the stairs are cut directly in the sandstone bedrock.
Steps cut into the rock 350 metres back up
Parts of the trail was being rebuilt. Stone blocks were moved in to replace old broken steps. Loop time was just under 3 hours with 12800 steps from the pedometer.
Maintenance on the trail Valley views from the top
The town of Blackheath is the entry to some of the challenging hikes in the area. Nice old downtown store fronts.
Downtown Blackheath
After lunch, I tested my tolerance for heights. Pulpit Rock has 3 levels of lookouts. Only made it to the second level. The vertical drop is in the 180 metre range. Narrow does not adequately describe the trail.
Pulpit Rock
Nice back roads through the trees
Last hike for the day was the Govetts Leap Descent. It goes to the base of what used to be known as the Bridal Veil Falls. "Leap" is a scottish term for waterfall. The route was surveyed by Tomas Rodriguez, the local stationmaster, in 1898. The 0.75 km trip down has over 900 steps.
Govetts Leap
There was a lot of water both running down the cliff face and dripping from the overhangs. All sorts of vegetation.
Steep stairs Growing on the vertical walls
The wind was swirling around a lot that day. The place where the water hit the bottom of the falls would move by 20 to 30' depending on the wind.
The falls twisted by winds Wind pushes the impact point around
More plants on the walls Under an overhang
More stairs going up
Round trip was only one hour and 2600 steps, but mostly vertical.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoos were everywhere The view from the top
The first stop the next day was the old Catalina Park race course in Katoomba. It was 2.1 km in length and opened in 1961. The native Australians were displaced to construct the track and it was declared as an Aboriginal Place in 2002. Formula Junior raced here in period, 1962 in particular with several rounds of the Australian national and regional Formula Junior championship.
Catalina Park Google map
It was used for racing through the 60's when it's narrowness and primitive safety arrangements lost their appeal. Rallycross took over, then just time trials until closing in the early 90s.
Catalina Park track Timber guardrails in most places, single Armco in others
The next trail started at Leura Cascades. Once again lots of steps down, this time following the cascading water to the Bridal Veil Falls.
Leura Cascades
All sorts of sulfur crested cockatoos squawking and drinking at the top of the falls. Apparently they can be quite destructive. There was also a guy abseiling down the falls with a sprayer.

Sulfur Crested Cockatoo Abseil anchor

Bridal Veil Falls from the top
Lots of stairs down of course
Bridal Veil Falls from the bottom
Federal Pass Trail had a bit of exposure, don't trip
Some runners on the trail
Old timber stairs overlaid with newer
Occasional tree down
The view from the top
Sandstone wears in interesting patterns
The next hike also used the Federal Pass, but starting at Wentworth Falls
Butterfly at Wentworth Falls
Wentworth cascade before first drop
The trail opened in 1908
Watch your head
Pretty exposed
Down the stairs
A pickaxe head found during trail rebuild
Bottom of the Wentworth Falls first drop
Wind was blowing spray
back up the second drop
They used old rail as fence posts when the trail was built
The wind was blowing the water all over
Sometimes the trail is a bit dangerous
The trail follows a natural ledge
Old rail used to support trail boardwalk
Into the ferns
Lodore Falls
Empress Falls
Got to go back up
The last hike was a loop, starting at Katoomba Falls, following the Prince Henry Cliffwalk to Echo Point and the 3 Sisters, down the full Giant Staircase, back along another part of the National Pass to the Scenic World Incline Railway to get back up. Enough of this climbing up stuff.
The Scenic Skyway runs over the Prince Henry Cliffwalk 
Down the Giant Staircase all the way this time
Dardanelles Pass from Giant Staircase to National Pass
Tree growth narrows the trail in spots
 The original inclined railway was used to move coal and oil shale from the bottom of the cliff to the top. After the mines closed, it was reopened as a tourist attraction.
Bottom of the Incline Railway
Going up!
Scenic World has walkways to make it easy to get around
At the bottom, there was piping to filter beds from the 2 septic tanks that serviced Katoomba from 1909 to 1935. With the drop down the cliff, the pressure would have been in the 260 psi range.
Bottom of 1909 sewage filter beds
Old bucket for moving oil shale
 The next day was taken up by travelling to Bathurst with road works most of the way.
Found a French Mirage drop tank nose
Drove around Bathurst TT Vale Circuit that was used from 1931 to 1937. Can't image racing around on motorcycles in that era on unpaved roads.

The next day was occupied by seeing the Mount Panorama circuit and the National Motor Racing Museum. There was a lapping day going on for high performance cars with some 12hr GT competitors practicing as well.
Ferrari and Porsche in the gravel
Nota F3 with 4 Amal carbs
The next two days at the track were going to be used for Regularity races (you get penalty points for going faster or slower than the time you designated).
Datsun 240C ready for Regularity race tomorrow
The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum is located in Bathurst, which has the samples arranged by chemical composition, not location.

On the way back, I drove to Kanangra-Boyd National Park. The last section to Kanangra Wall is 30 km of unsealed road, luckily not washboard. I saw two kangaroo, one wombat, and one spiny anteater wandering on the road on the way.
Valley view
Kanangra Falls
More stairs back up from the Falls

Then more stairs to the Kanangra Wall plateau
Lots of vegetation on the top of the Wall
Exposed rock on the plateau
Then it was on to the Jenolan Caves. Lots of steep switchbacks down to the caves and saw another spiny anteater on the way.
Look out for anteaters
Interesting caves, primarily above the entrance level. The entrance is at the bottom of the valley so all the caves are mainly above. Means you climb up first for a change.

Reflections of the cave roof
Backlite drapery
More nice twisty roads leaving the caves. Pretty narrow (1.5 lanes in spots) with rocks and landslips on the road. Stayed overnight in Katoomba again before continuing to Sydney.

Sydney has lots of attractions. I took a tour of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Interesting to compare plants from around the world to the native species.
Ficus Macropylia
The Fernery
Guess the birds can't read
Did an afternoon sail on AUS40 Kookaburra, an America's Cup sailboat, run by Explore. It was built for the 1995 French challenge, but the accountant absconded with the funding before it was finished. It was finished in 1998 and brought to New Zealand for the 2000 event as a trial boat for the Swiss. We sailed up to Manly and back. Everyone got a turn on the helm.
Steering AUS40
Took the ferry over to Manly the next day to check out the beach. Didn't take a swim because there were no lockers to keep your stuff safe.
Manly Beach
The following day I did go for a swim at Bondi Beach. Pure white coral sand. Gently sloping bottom (so you don't get pounded near shore). The local surfboard hire trailer also had lockers you could rent to keep your valuables off the beach.
Surf break at the far end of Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
 After playing in the surf a bit, I did the Coastal Walk that hits 3 beaches going south, Bondi, Tamarama, and Bronte. Was unable to get in the water at Tamarama because of big surf.
Bondi Icebergs Swim Club uses water from the ocean
Coastal Walk on top of the cliff
Tamarama Beach and Bronte Beach had big surf running
Swimming was not allowed at Tamarama Beach
Bronte was a little better, but not much
Quickly shelving bottom made the waves break right at the shore at Bronte
Calmer area protected by rocks at one end of Bronte Beach
Swimming just behind the rocks at Bronte Beach
Another salt water pool (Bronte Baths)
Some people have no sense of self preservation
The sail on the America's Cup boat made me want more, so I signed up for a Twilight Race on AUS40. The Cruising Yacht Club Australia runs evening races on Monday and Wednesday in the Sydney harbour every week starting at 6pm. It is open to all sorts of boats with Wednesdays non-spinnaker. Both America's Cup boats were there, plus 23 other big boats in our class. The one that caught my eye was Maserati, the ex-Ericsson3 Volvo70 round-the-world racer.
A storm front came through before we had all the sails up and the wind hit 28 knots. It was down to a more reasonable 15 at the beginning of the race.
Close start at the committee boat end
But not a good start
 We had a poor start, but good tactics and a dying breeze on the first leg saw us recover. We went up towards Georges Head, tacked to clear, back into Middle Head, over to the mark off Lady Bay (South Head) and we rounded the top mark in second behind Maserati. The wind continued to die and at one point I saw 0.0 for both wind and boat speed. When the breeze came back, KOA, a TP52, and Triton, an LC60, both ghosted by us before the finish on the shortened course off Shark Island. So 4th over the line was a good result, particularly since we beat the other America's Cup boat. You always have to beat  your teammate.
Some smaller boats were still on the first leg after we finished
AUS21 under the bridge after the race
The next day was spent at the Maritime Museum. Got tours of the HMAS Advance (patrol boat), HMAS Vampire (destroyer), HMAS Onslow (Oberon class sub), and HMB Endeavour (replica of Captain Cook's bark). The Vampire was built on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour from 1952-56.
HMAS Vampire has three turrets with two 4.5 inch guns each
The original bridge was open, soon changed
The radio room door had bonding fingers to properly shield the room
Top right - anti-aircraft shells
Bottom - 4.5" shell assembly
Top left - different fuses for 4.5" shells
HMAS Onslow was an Oberon class Cold War era sub, similar to the HMAS Ovens Dave and I toured in Fremantle.
HMAS Onslow sonar bow
Entered the sub through the forward torpedo loading hatch
Big diesels charge the sub batteries and/or the electric propulsion motors
All the different masts on the sub conning tower
The guide in sub control room recounted a story that he had a UK visitor say that the periscope was 'his' as he recognized the serial number as one he had built originally.

The HMB Endeavor is known as the most accurate replica of Cook's ship. The artists that came on the voyage drew the boat when not documenting plants/animals, so accurate drawings of the ship exist. This replica has been around the world two times, retracing Cooks journeys. The ship originally was a collier that Cook was familiar with, both rugged and reliable. They added a mid-deck in the hold since they needed more space. 92 people went with Cook vs 16 when moving coal.The new deck laid on existing beams which made the back section really short for the officer's cabins (no more than 4' high).
HMB Endeavour
Forward section of Endeavour
Rear of the mid-deck had reasonable headroom
Crew hammocks were slung on 16 inch centres
About 4' ceiling in the Officer's cabins
The Grand Cabin for Cook and Banks (chief scientist)
Friday was the practice for the last V8 Supercar race at Sydney Olympic Park. It will be at Newcastle next year. It was a free day so there were school kids everywhere. Like locusts on any give-away stuff like posters. The support classes were: Toyota 86 (former Scion FR-S), Touring Car Masters (mainly 70's muscle cars), Utes (think modern Rancheros and El Caminos), and the Dunlop series (older V8 Supercars).
Toyota 86's on pace lap
Touring Car Masters: a Ford Falcon, a Holden Torana and a couple of Ford Mustangs
Utes hopping curbs
V8 Supercar really hitting the curbs
There were lots of things for fans to do and buy. I got to ride in an Isuzu Ute up and down a 45° ramp, and up on two wheels. All free.

Saturday was qualifying and the first race for all the classes. I noticed a Blue Jays hat on my neighbour in the stands. Both he and his father play for Toronto Tigers amateur baseball club in Newcastle. They were familiar with where the race is running next year. The race was a good one. Shane van Gisbergen was leading the championship and got the pole for Saturday's race. A penalty for avoidable contact put him almost at the back early in the race. He worked his way back up to 3rd by the time the chequered flag flew, clinching the championship.

My last day in Australia was spent at the Sydney Cricket Grounds for a One Day International match between Australia and New Zealand. Interesting game, a number of similarities and differences to baseball. Slightly slower pitching speeds (151 kph), but  the bowler also has to bounce the ball off the ground before reaching the batsman. Definitely a party in the stands. Even the 20-somethings sing along with Men At Work's 'Land Down Under'
Sydney Cricket Grounds
Australian batsman about to hit the ball
Statue of 'Yabba', a notorious heckler from before WW2
Spider cam on four cables
It was dress up day for the ODI (you could win prizes)
Well, that was all for the Australia trip. The flights home were quicker as I left directly from Sydney (only 29 hours door-to-door).
Leaving on a jet plane

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